Guest blog written by Debbie Borg, Nebraska farmer and mother of three.
Debbie Borg lives on Nebraska soil that the family has toiled on for more than 130 years. She is ardent about agriculture but most passionate about making sure the next generation has the tools, skills and love to carry on the tradition. She actively works to make this possible by protecting the natural resources necessary to make a living and life for their families.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) play an important role in the conservation efforts on my farm because they provide my husband and me the ability to grow more with less- in a way that is safer and healthier than we could have imagined when we started farming in 1978.
Like most farmers, the first GMO corn hybrid we grew was called Bt corn. Bt stands for bacillus thuringiensis. What does the Latin term Bacillus thuringiensis really mean? It is a naturally occurring, soil-borne bacteria. Since the 1950s, farmers have used it for natural insect control. It consists of a spore, which gives it persistence, and a protein crystal within the spore, which is “toxic”- but only to worms and not to my family or yours.
Bt is safe. It has been approved for use for nearly 70 years. It occurs naturally and, because of that, is even approved for use in some organic crops. Plus, it is everywhere naturally — in things like carpet cleaner and tomato dust.
My favorite thing about Bt? Bt has reduced the need for corn rootworm insecticide which required masks, the right kind of gloves and wind-free conditions to be applied properly.
REALITY CHECK: When planting happens on farms it is “all hands on deck.” Everyone does what it takes to move fast and efficiently. Which means, sometimes, my farmer didn’t put the mask on and hated using the gloves. I love him, and I love knowing that now the crop protects itself and that protects him — and all of us.
If your family loves sweet corn as much as mine does, you probably love Bt too. Remember when you bought sweet corn and there was a worm wiggling at the top? NO MORE! The corn is protecting itself from worms — all by itself — no chemicals no dusting — just yummy, SAFE, sweet corn.
GMOs benefit families like yours and mine every day. While we harvest, I look around the house. From the vitamin C in our cabinets to the fuel in my car, the GMOs have helped to further make corn even more sustainable. An affordable miracle that makes so much of our lives possible. Who knows? Someday I may even get to change a grand kids corn diaper!
This harvest, I am thankful for all my family has and how we contribute to nourishing and protecting other families just like ours across the country. And- I am thankful for GMOs which help the crop grow and keep our growing family and countryside safe too.